All The Pretty Horses

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  • Directed By: Billy Bob Thornton
  • Written By: Ted Tally
  • Release Date: December 25, 2000
  • Domestic Distributor: Miramax
  • Cast: Matt Damon, Henry Thomas, Penélope Cruz

Box Office Info:
Budget: $45 million Financed by: Sony; Miramax
Domestic Gross: $15,540,353 Overseas Gross: $2,593,142

“They saw the cast, the director, Billy Bob Thornton, and the fact that we spent $50 million, and they never released our movie—though the cut still exists. Billy had a heart problem at that time, and it was because his heart f-cking broke from fighting for that film. It really f-cked him up. It still bothers me to this day.”
Matt Damon

all the pretty horses 2000
All The Pretty Horses was developed at Sony Columbia and Miramax muscled its way into the production by exercising a three-picture option they had on director Billy Bob Thornton after Miramax handled Sling Blade.  The two studios would equally co-finance the movie and split all worldwide revenue and Columbia would handle domestic distribution.   The budget for All The Pretty Horses was $45 million.  After filming completed in mid 1999, Billy Bob Thornton showed Columbia executives an assembly edit of everything that was shot, which clocked in at 3 hours and 48 minutes.  This was not Thornton’s cut, which he intended to bring in under 3 hours.  It was after this screening that the fate of All The Pretty Horses was doomed.

The executives panicked and fought with Thornton over the length, which caused the original Christmas 1999 release date to be pushed back to the Spring of 2000.  The post production troubles continued and it was delayed until the Summer of 2000 and finally Columbia decided to wash their hands of the project and handed domestic distribution over to Miramax in August.  The studio claimed Miramax was better at selling prestige specialty pictures, but the move lent a cloud of bad buzz around All The Pretty Horses — that it was a problem picture being butchered by two studios.  Over at Miramax, ‘re-editing the hell out of movies’ veteran Harvey Weinstein had Thornton commission numerous cuts.  Part of the deal of Columbia unloading the movie to Miramax was that the running length could not be longer than 2 hours and 15 minutes and $25 million needed to be spent on P&A.  The different cuts came in at 2 hours and 28 minutes, 2 hours and 14 minutes and an edit that was whittled down to 1 hour and 45 minutes.  Eventually the theatrical version was 1 hour and 56 minutes.  Also complicating matters was Weinstein rejected the original score by composer Daniel Lanois and Marty Stuart was hired to redo the score.

All The Pretty Horses was moved to Christmas 2000 and would be apart of Miramax’s award slate (one of Weinstein’s weakest) — which also had the mixed reviewed Malena and the mixed reviewed Chocolat, which Weinstein worked his magic and somehow landed that one a Best Picture nomination.  All The Pretty Horses received (you guessed it) mixed reviews and was lost in a very crowded end of the year market.  Christmas landed on a Monday and it pulled in $4.1 million over the weekdays.  For its first weekend session, it pulled in a very weak $3,464,058 — placing #10 for the frame led by Cast Away.  Audiences did not like what they saw and gave All The Pretty Horses a terrible C+ cinemascore.  It declined a modest 28% to $2,477,053 in its second weekend frame, but it never made up ground for the poor start at the box office.  The domestic run closed with only $15,540,353.  Miramax & Sony would see returned about $8.4 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross.

Sony handled most overseas markets and dumped the film, where it had a minuscule rollout to all of $2,593,142.

Matt Damon had second billing in the expensive flop The Legend of Bagger Vance, which opened the month prior on November 3 and he lent his voice to the animated June fiasco Titan A.E.

Years later, Harvey Weinstein said he would pay for the restoration of Thornton’s actual director’s cut, but composer Daniel Lanois refused to allow his unused work included.  Thornton sided with the composer and said he would not go ahead with the original version without the score and permission from Lanois.


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